Sunday, December 31, 2017

Wichita Turns the Tables With 3-1 Win Over Allen, Game Recap, Martinson Comments, Today's Rematch Preview, Rule 39.5 & Allen's NYE Record in Detail

The Wichita Thunder turned the tables on the Allen Americans last night with a 3-1 victory before an enthusiastic crown of 5614 at Intrust Bank Arena. Friday night Allen overcame the odds coming back to win the game when Wichita had the lead after the first period. Prior to that game the Thunder were a perfect 12-0 when leading after the first period. Wichita overcame the odds last night winning the game after Allen scored the first goal. Prior to last night the Americans hadn't lost a game in regulation all season when they scored the first goal of the game (13-0-1-0).

- It was a typical Allen vs Wichita physical, hard fought game that wasn't decided until the Thunder scored an empty net goal with 55 seconds remaining in the game. There were a lot of penalties (78 minutes) though most were offsetting. Shots on goal were even (41-40), neither team scored on the power play (Allen 0-2, Wichita 0-4) and both goalies played well. Allen killed a long five-on-three power play to start the second period.

- Allen took the lead 1-0 at the 12:32 mark of the first period when Marcus Basara scored (five hole) off a great pass from Alex Guptill. It was Basara's second goal of the season. That was the first and only time the Americans could get the puck in the net even though they had numerous grade A opportunities. The video highlights include many of the missed opportunities by both teams. You can also see the fight between former teammates and defensive partners Mike Gunn and Travis Brown. Pay close attention to the fight and you will notice Brown landed all of the punches because the linesman had Gunn's armed pinned down so he could not fight back.

 - Here is the game recap from the Allen Americans:

- Here is the game recap from the Wichita Thunder:

- I asked coach Martinson for his thoughts after the game and as is often the case after a loss he was brief and to the point. "It is tough to play shorthanded with guys hurt and sick, especially playing three games in four days but the team gave a great effort tonight. It is hard to fathom having only two power plays tonight. Then you see a player shoot a helmet at the referee and it all makes sense."

- In most games both teams take issue with penalties that are and aren't called by the referee and it is always interesting to listen to the home and away broadcasters to hear how the same play can be interpreted in totally different ways. Coach Martinson's comment got me interested in the rule about shooting equipment at the referee. If you haven't seen the play here is my home video version where the Thunder player actually shoots his helmet in the direction of the referee after he took issue with a no call on a play behind the net.

I looked up the rule cited in the boxscore for the game misconduct (39.5) and you can see it appears to indicate the Wichita player should have been given a minor penalty in addition to the game misconduct. I assume that is what coach Martinson was referring to in his post game comment to me. Here is the exact wording from the ECHL rule book. Notice it also allows for supplemental discipline in this situation.

- Abuse of Officials - Game Misconduct Penalty: Rule 39.5 (vi & vii) - Any player, coach or non-playing person who throws or shoots any equipment or other object in the general direction of an official but does not come close to making contact. This action may occur on or off the ice. In general, participants displaying this type of behavior are assessed a minor, then a misconduct and then a game misconduct for this type of behavior. Any player, goalkeeper, coach or non-playing club personnel penalized under this section may be subject to supplemental discipline (fine and/or suspension).


- I am sure there will be two exhausted teams that take the ice this afternoon (4:05 pm) less then 20 hours after they finished the game in Wichita and drove 360 miles through the night to arrive in Allen. And don't forget this will be the fourth game between these teams in the last 96 hours.

- There shouldn't be any surprises when Allen and Wichita meet each other for the fourth time in five days this afternoon. The question is will the style of play be any different with both teams beat up, banged up and exhausted. Olivier Archambault and Miles Liberati did not play last night in Wichita and this is the time of year players get sick as they are in close quarters all of the time. You can look for short shifts this afternoon for sure.

- Allen has the advantage in the three games against Wichita this week on the power play. The Americans are 2-9 (22.2%) and won the two games they scored a power play goal. Wichita is 1-11 (9.1%). If the Americans score at least one power play goal and win the special teams battle they will have an excellent chance of winning the game today. That has been the case in their last four wins.

- It is always important to avoid undisciplined stick penalties and misconduct penalties but even more so today when the team may be playing shorthanded after an exhausting four games in five days. All players but especially the best players need to stay out of the penalty box.

- The Americans have done an excellent job of eliminating the shot deferential that has plagued them recently. In the two games in Wichita the shots were dead even at 64-64. You have to like Allen's chances if they can keep that up in the game today.   


- With the Allen loss to Wichita and Idaho losing in Utah in a shootout last night the Mountain Division standings tightened again. Colorado won and is now nine points clear of the field with an ECHL leading 50 points. Allen and Idaho are tied for second place in the division with 41 points and Wichita is close behind with 40 points.

- Idaho and Colorado are idle today so it's a chance for Allen to gain some ground. It would be really disappointing, after the Americans won the first two games of this four game set with Wichita, if they lose today and end up with a split.

- In AHL action yesterday San Jose beat Manitoba 3-2. The Barracuda are 4-0-0-1 in their last five games. Spencer Asuchak has been a healthy scratch the last two games. Vincent Areseneau was in the lineup for Utica last night after sitting out a game with the flu. Utica was out shot 41-17 but took the game to a shootout before losing to Syracuse 3-2. Vincent didn't have a point in the game but was credited with two shots on goal and took a boarding penalty. San Jose plays Manitoba again today and then doesn't play until Friday. Utica is idle until next Friday. Will have to keep an eye on AHL transactions to see if either player is returned to Allen.

DID YOU KNOW: I mentioned yesterday that Allen has played very well over the years on New Years Eve (NYE). Since becoming a franchise in 2009-10 Allen's NYE record is 7-0. In 2015-16 they did not play on NYE and in 2009-10 they played in Wichita and won 3-0. The Americans NYE record at the Allen Event Center (NYE) is 6-0 and they have dominated NYE games at the AEC.

 Last year it was an 8-4 win over Mathieu Aubin and the Utah Grizzlies. Greger Hanson (who now plays for Utah) was the #1 star of the game with two goals and two assists.

The most memorable NYE game was way back in 2010-11 when Allen spanked the Tulsa Oilers 10-1. Allen scored early and often and had a 7-0 lead by midway in the second period. Dave Bonk led Allen with a hat trick. Bonk and Judd Blackwater each had six points in the game which is still the all time record for points in a game.

You add it all together and Allen has outscored their opponents on NYE at the AEC 35-13. Let's hope there is more of the same today. 

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